KING LAURIN AND THE ALP-GLOW
Directing one's look from the Talveratown eastwards one sees above the forest of the Isarco-valley, on gazing upwards, a high rocky mountain-group with a long pointed chain of peaks, glowing wonderfully in the evening. This mountain-group is called, The Rosegarden.
In the good old days, before hate and homicide existed amongst men, this chain of mountains was not as steep and bare as it now is, but easily accessible and all covered with red roses. There, in the rosegrove, lived little people with a king named Laurin. The mountain itself was hollow and in it were many corridors and halls containing immense treasures. The frontier of this mysterious and magic realm was not marked by a dam or hedge, but only by a thin thread of silk which enclosed the roses all around.
One day Laurin heard that a neighbouring king had a wonderful daughter, Similde by name, and he decided to woo her. He therefore sent three of his people to that king to sue for the princess. The door-keeper who received the messengers was a wicked man whose name was Wittege. At first he would not even let them enter, but finally being obliged to do so, he said to the other soldiers:
"The impudence of these dwarf-people is unprecedented - they presume to be of equal birth with us. If I were the king I should have them beaten and throw them out." A valiant old warrior, however, rebuked him for this speech.
In the meantime the three dwarfs had given the king their message. The king sent for his daughter and spoke with her, but the princess refused the proposal. The dwarfs became sad, and were obliged to leave the castle again. Wittege was very pleased, therefore, and he scoffed at them with sneering words. The messengers, however, spoke as sharply as he did, and Wittege grew angry, and growled threateningly after them. The others fled and told Laurin what had happened.
But the dwarf-king had a magic power which gave him great strength, and, accordingly, he succeded in abducting Similde and in bringing her to his hollow mountain. For seven years he kept her there a prisoner. Finally the brother of the princess succeded in discovering her whereabouts. He wanted to start with his soldiers immediately to free Similde, but Hildebrandt warned him, saying that King Laurin was very powerful and a terrible adversary. They decided to appeal for the help of Dietrich who was a famous warrior and lived in Bern. Dietrich instantly agreed to share the adventure.
So they marched forth. Soon, from afar, they could see Laurin's wonderful mountain with its red roses. They thought they were very near it but the mountain was still a long way off. At last after a long journey they reached the silk thread which enclosed the rosegrove. The summer sun was shining, and under the mid-day sky the roses were glowing and exhaling in unbelievable splendour and richness.
Said the powerful Dietrich:
"Against whom shall we fight? I do not see any soldiers; neither can I see ramparts nor weapons. I only see a silken thread and I don't like to injure it. I propose, therefore, that we send a messenger to the hollow mountain to treat with Laurin."
These peaceful words offended Wittege. He sprang forward, tore the silken thread and trampled the roses. Immediately there appeared an armed man with a golden crown upon his head: it was King Laurin. He brandished his spear, approaching Wittege in a threatening manner.
All the warriors laughed, but Hildebrand warned Wittege to take care. But he said:
"Come along, little dwarf, I will take you by the feet and strike you against the rockwall." But nothing of the kind happened. Both of them fought together and soon Wittege was in such distress that he was obliged to call for Dietrich's help. Then Dietrich hurried up and Hildebrand cried to him:
"Laurin is wearing a belt which gives him the strength of twelve men; tear off this belt and victory will be yours."
Dietrich did so, and soon he succeeded in overcoming the dwarf. Immediately Similde's brother came up and demanded the princess.
"She is in my mountain, answered Laurin, and she has apartments and servants. No harm has been done to her: of that you may be sure.
"Conduct me to her and let her go free", cried the warrior, "or I shall cut off your head."
Now Dietrich would not allow such angry word ' s to be addressed to little Laurin, and the warriors, therefore, began to quarrel. All at once there opened in the rocks a gate which nobody had noticed until that moment, and Similde came out with a troop of servants. She was delighted to see her brother and thanked him and the other gentlemen for her release, saying at the same time that Laurin was a noble man for he had always honoured her like a queen. The gentlemen, therefore, she said, should not be angry with him nor continue to make war upon him, but become friends.
The powerful Dietrich liked this speech. He gave Laurin his hand and invited the other warriors to follow his example. They all did so except Wittege. He said goodbye and went away.
Then Laurin said:
"As we are all friends now, come with me into the mountain; there I will show you my treasures and entertain you well."
The warriors accepted the invitation with pleasure and entered the hollow mountain. They were soon lost in admiration at all the beauties that were hidden there. The realm of the dwarfs contained wonderful treasures and works of art. Finally they came to a large hall where Laurin and his guests took their places at a richly laden banquet-table. They were served by dwarfs and entertained with music and song. The hours passed quickly and it became night. Laurin rose from the table and conducted the guests to their sleepingplaces. All retired to rest.
Shortly after midnight Laurin was awakened by a shieldbearer who told him that Wittege was creeping around, the rosegrove with a troop of armed men trying to break into the hollow mountain. Immediately Laurin marched out with his people and after strenuous fights Wittege and his soldiers were driven down the mountain. Victorious, the dwarfs returned home in need of rest.
Hildebrand, however, had heard the noise of the fight, and fearing treason he awakened his companions. They armed themselves and occupied the gates. On seeing this Laurin thought that his guests and Wittege had secretly agreed to attack the dwarf people suddenly during the night and to destroy them. They reproached each other in a very offensive manner and soon a very sharp fight had started again. Obeying Laurin's instructions the dwarfs put on caps which made them invisible. Thanks to this advantage, they succeeded in overpowering the warriors and in putting them in chains. Then they put them all together into a deep keep, closed the gate and went to sleep.
But the powerful Dietrich grew so angry that fire came from his mouth and with it he melted, away the chains, freeing himself and his companions. As soon as they were free, Similde appeared, bringing them magic rings by means of which the efficacy of the caps was set at nought.
The dwarfs awakened and began an assault. Although they were wearing their magic caps again, they were now seen by the warriors and resisted. Soon the dwarfs were at a disadvantage, Laurin sent for five giants who lived on a neighbouring mountain. They came and helped him yet the victory went to the powerful Dietrich and his companions. They look Laurin prisoner and dragged him away with them to a lonely farm where Wittege was his guard.
Thus Laurin lost everything and fell into great misfortune. The servants mocked at him and he was ill-treated by Wittege. He was often bound to a pillar and obliged to sing and dance while the troops looked on and laughed. Laurin suffered in this way for many years. One night, however, it happened that Wittege and another warrior had to keep night-watch. They played with dice on a drum and were drinking beer from large bumpers. In this, way they did not pay much attention to Laurin as they had bound him to a stake with a leather rope. But as it was very cold they made a fire, and continuing to drink, they fell asleep in the morning beside the drum. Laurin succeeded in reaching the fire-place and in burning the leather rope in the glowing ashes. Thus he freed himself and Red from the farm.
After long travelling Laurin arrived back to his mountains, but on turning a corner of the valley and seeing all at once the red Rosegarden, standing like a miracle above the forests before him, he said:
"These roses have betrayed me. If the men had not seen the roses, they would never have discovered my mountain."
Thereupon Laurin turned the whole Rosegarden into stone, pronouncing a spell to the effect that roses were never to be seen there again either by night or by day.
But he forgot the twilight, which is neither night nor day, and that is why the enchanted garden displays its roses at twilight. This is called A I p g I o w. At this time men come out of their houses to watch and wonder, and they become imbued with the spirit of the good old times when hate and homicide did not exist and everything was more beautiful and good.
But when the Rosegarden has died away and its peaks stand out once more in cold clearness, then men become silent and return sadly to their homes.
So tells the old story of the Rosegarden which was enclosed by a silken
thread, about Wittege's might and the sorrow of Laurin.